The moon may soon be a tourist destination for millionaires with Excalibur Almaz, a British spaceflight firm, preparing to sell $150,000 tickets aboard a 1970s Soviet space station retrofitted with new thrusters
Space tourists may soon be able to pay their own way to the moon on board old Russian spacecraft retrofitted by a company based in the British Isles.
The spaceflight firm Excalibur Almaz estimates that it can sell about 30 seats between 2015 and 2025, for $150 million each, aboard moon-bound missions on a Salyut-class space station driven by electric hall-effect thrusters.
Excalibur Almaz founder and chief executive officer Art Dula estimates it will take 24 to 30 months to develop the remaining technology needed and to refurbish the ex-Soviet spacecraft and space stations the company already owns. It bought four 1970s-era Soviet Almaz program three-crew capsules and two Russian Salyut-class 63,800-pound (29,000 kilograms) space station pressure vessels.
Declaring that he is ready to sell tickets and that a 50 percent return on investment could be achieved in three years, Dula told the Royal Aeronautical Society's third European space tourism conference on June 19, "At $100 million to 150 million [per seat, we can sell] up to 29 seats in the next 10 years, and that is a conservative estimate. We [chose] not to use, for this presentation, the aggressive estimates." [Gallery: Private Space Stations of the Future]
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